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Rethinking sustainable latrine use through human behaviour change and local capacity development An assessment of the district approach in Ethiopia (A case study)

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posted on 08.10.2020, 12:57 authored by Addise Amado Dube
Sustainable latrine use is the headline of sanitation discussions. Despite the efforts, progress lags behind its targets in developing countries. The aim of this study focuses on understanding key motivators of sanitation behaviour change, capacity development and intersectoral integration to advance sustainable use of latrines. A mixed methodological approach comprising of survey, interview, focus group discussion and observation is applied to collect evidences. However, research on sanitation behaviour change and capacity development is scanty and at lower stage compared to other health sectors such as on diabetics, HIV/AIDS, obesity or alcoholism. The existing literature indicates that human behaviour change is a crucial factor in achieving sanitation targets and it is vital to work in interdisciplinary manner to achieve such goals. Sociological and historical approaches to sanitation research can contribute immensely to reflect on social facts and lessons from the past and the current practices. This case study discovered that social factors that focus on awareness creation and education is a strong reason in motivating sustainable latrine use followed by emotional layers such as cleanliness and decency as important driving forces. As the result of using latrines community members feel confident for getting dignity and convenience in their daily agricultural activities and homestead tasks which in turn motivates them to maintain their toilets. Although the qualities of the latrines in the study communities are poor and its utilization rate is very low, the latrine culture is progressing slowly but with a pressure to be ODF at the expense of sustainability. Based on such lessons, empowering stakeholders at the household and Kebele levels is crucial. Such capacity development includes enhancing the skills of service providers, facilitating sanitation products and promotion as well as providing supportive supervision and monitoring. On the other hand, the challenges of integrating intersectoral collaboration are complex and massive. Except for its lack of quality, regular follow up and monitoring, the coordination mechanisms are functioning properly at district level whereas the Kebele coordination can benefit if it mobilizes all the existing structures including political organizations, government civil service structures and social institutions such as religious, self help and other groups. If the current defects get corrected with an emphasis on quality, the evolution of sustainable latrine use in Ethiopia is positive.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)